Monday, April 11, 2011

Upstairs Downstair Reboot on PBS

The original Upstairs Downstairs was wildly popular, so it makes sense that it's being revisited. Last night the first episode of the reboot aired on PBS's Masterpiece program (and is available to watch online as well).
The first episode laid a lot of groundwork for things to come. In one hour they rather efficiently introduced a brand new set of characters (with the exception of the beloved Rose who now runs an employment agency for domestic workers). There were a few moments of humor and heartbreak, but over all, not a stunning episode. I look forward to seeing more plot and character development now that all the necessary exposition is out of the way.
Lady Percy, played by Claire Foy (of Little Dorrit) was hardly seen in this episode, but her struggles with her family's genteel poverty, adapting to her sister's new lifestyle, as well as her temper poise her to be an important character that will possibly serve as a catalyst to future plots.
It was a risk to try and reproduce a show that was so loved and so revolutionary. It was also a risk putting it in a Masterpiece season that just debuted the spectacular Downton Abbey-- another program that deals with the dynamic of aristocracy and their servants. Both Downton and Upstairs set their characters in a world on the verge of change, social and political conflicts challenge tradition and the way these characters view the world, especially in regards to class and position. Where they seem to diverge (so far) is that Downton is more rooted in family drama, where Upstairs seems to be going in a direction more focused on politics. All in all, worth the watching

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